I don’t know how many of you have been following the news out of this region (the Middle East) recently, but things are heating up here. Over the last 2 days, the air-raid siren has rang twice in Tel Aviv as rockets from Hamas in Gaza nearly reach the city for the first time since 1991. Even more shockingly, yesterday Jerusalem was targeted and citizens there heard the siren and ran for cover for the first time since 1975. Thankfully, that one landed in an open field. As for the rockets aimed at Tel Aviv, the first landed in the sea right outside Jaffa (30 mins south of my apartment by foot) and the other was shot down by our Iron Dome protective system.
As one of my facebook friends put it, “thank god none of my friends live in an ‘open field.'”
A couple days ago, a rocket landed in Holon, the city I used to work in last year, and another in Rishon Litzion, a suburb of Tel Aviv jut south of the city.
Barak is calling up 75,000 reserve soldiers, gearing up what looks like a likely ground initiative.
True, there have been significantly fewer Israeli causalities (thankfully) than on the Palestinian side. And it is also true that everyone, except the US currently, seems to be condemning Israel for “the violence.” What people don’t seem to understand, because of the way the various news networks are spinning the story, that Israel is defending itself. Just because the rockets are landing in “open fields” or the sea or being shot down by the Iron Dome, does not change the fact that they are firing rockets at us. Should we say “it’s ok that you shoot at us as long as you continue to have bad aim,”? How stupid. Aiming for Tel Aviv is a message, a triple-dog-dare to Israel to engage. The message has been received and the IDF is coming down hard and strong on them.
Yes, the sirens are scary. Yes, my heart – and everyone else’s in this country – starts to beat out of my chest at the chilling sound as we all drop what we’re doing and hurry to take cover. Those 11.5 minutes seem to go so slowly (90 seconds to take cover once the siren sounds, then allowing 10 minutes in case of more incoming fire). No, there doesn’t seem to be an end in the near future according to the news. Am I making plans to leave and go back to the US? Absolutely not.
I’ve had a few people ask me if I’m going to leave Israel given the latest political events. That is completely absurd. I know that the questions are coming from a place of love and concern for my safety and well being, but when 9/11 happened, no one was making plans to move! One friend even went so far as to say “if you need help getting re-setup here in the US until things calm down over there, I’ll help you.” Well, thank you but I’m not over here on vacation. I can’t just close up shop here, and resume life as normal in the US temporarily. Here’s the logistics that would have to go into leaving, if it were even a remote option, which it’s not:
- I have a job here. I would have to figure out a way to leave my job such that when I return, I still have said job. I love this job. I’ve never loved a job quite so much. I’m not leaving this job without a fight.
- I have an apartment. An apartment which needs to be up-kept and paid for. If I’m not here, who will pay my rent?
- I do not have an Israeli passport yet. Yes, I have a travel document I can use in case of emergency (like a death in the family, G-d forbid). If I leave on my American passport, I won’t be able to get back into the country easily “when things calm down.”
- I have friends here who could possibly get drafted out of the reserves. How would I ever be able to sleep at night knowing that my friends, my family here, are having bombs dropped on their head and are walking into battle while I fought to make aliyah then left at the first sign of political unrest? I wouldn’t.
When I made aliyah, I knew what I was signing up for. I knew that the possibility of something like this happening was out there. I thought it was a little more unlikely than this, but I knew it was a possibility. This is my home. Like my neighbors, my friends, and my new family, I will just take it one day at a time, and life will go on. Shabbat will end tonight, work will resume tomorrow morning, and the kids still need to learn their music – now more than ever.
So, I set up a facebook message feed for 22 of my nearest and dearest across the ocean. I update them every 12 hours or so unless there is something worth saying. “I’m alive. All good. Nothing to report. Lots of love!” Hopefully, this is quelling the fear of those who are only watching the balagan on the American sensationalistic news.
As Ben put it last night, “This is your first war, babe. Isn’t it interesting?”